King County Metro
Increasing Public Transit Usage
UX Designer, Visual Designer

How might we encourage King County residents to use public transportation for their daily commutes?

During my time at the University of Washington, I took what I consider to be one of the more fascinating design courses offered: Designing for Behavior Change. In this course, we studied theory driven design to nudge positive behavior change.

The behavior that we took a deeper look into during this course was that of daily commuters who choose to drive to work over taking public transportation. With the help of my team mates Mitchell Fajardo and Stefanie Gueorguieva, I aimed to transform an assigned persona from a daily driver into a regular bus commuter.

Understanding our User

Our assigned persona, Fred, has recently started a new job. He is doing a good job, but finds it hard to mesh with his co-workers. According to the prompt, Fred is concerned what others think, and likes high end clothing brands. These characteristics might be contributing to his decision to drive over taking the bus everyday.

Fred is also a late adopter of technology. He is clumsy with his phone, and doesn't really know how to use trendy apps. We can also use Fred's goals to identify what characteristics are leading to his current behavior.

  • Wants to get to work on time
  • Wants to develop relationships with his new co-workers

Finally, we must identify some potential demotivating factors are in Fred's life.

  1. Fred is familiar with driving to work, and unfamiliar with using public transport in Seattle
  2. Fred tends to run late when leaving the house
  3. Fred lacks awareness of the benefits of taking public transport
  4. Fred doesn't know what to do on the bus, as his attention was previously occupied by the road.
  5. Fred doesn't want to be viewed as unprofessional for taking the bus
The Design

In order to encourage Fred to take the bus to work, we decided to gameify his commute experience, and turn it into a social opportunity. This app gives users a chance to interact with teams in real time as they are completing their public transport commutes. Since Fred is hoping to bond more with is co-workers, commuting via public transport can provide him with a chance to do so.

Since Fred has low tech literacy, he needs to have a clear understanding of what the application. The onboarding experience shown above appears upon first login. These screens explain how he can work with his team to earn rewards for team events. By emphasizing the social aspect of the game, we are hoping to nudge Fred to sign up.

The app also provides users with a tutorial upon first login. Since the type of interaction in this app is not ubiquitous, it is important to give users a thorough understanding of how to use it.

In order to address the barrier of lack of knowledge regarding public transport, the KCM app incentivizes the user to get the help they need with setting up their daily route (shown below). Users can plan their daily commute from home by selecting a type of transport, departure time, and more. In Fred's case, this is addressing both his lack of knowledge of the public transportation system, as well as his need to get to his new job on time and continue to make a good impression.

In order to engage users overtime, the app includes challenges that users can participate in over time.

Challenges can be generated by the app to incentivize group usage, such as going out to lunch together while using public transportation to travel there. Users can also send and receive challenges to other members in their team, increasing the personalization of the social interaction, and allowing users to generate their own content that keeps them interested in using the application.

Final Thoughts

This is the first project I've ever worked on that involved designing specifically to promote a change in behavior. Designing an application motivated by the theories I was learning in class put a very interesting perspective on the design process, and showed me how to used theory to support design decisions.

This project also taught me how important it is to make sure that all design decisions are driven by the needs of the user or business. I really enjoyed learning more about behavior change theory, and how theoretical UX concepts can be adapted into real products. I also was able to design for a very specific persona for the first time, and had to balance the needs of a specific persona that I was assigned to create a product for, while also assessing if the implemented features would be beneficial for the general user base.